It was March 1963 when visiting Costa Rica, U.S. President John F. Kennedy was a guest. Since then the room at the Gran Hotel Costa Rica where JFK stayed has remained intact.
Sandwiched between Avenida Central and Avenida Segunda, adjacent to the Plaza de la Cultura, diagonal to the Teatro Nacional (National Theater) in the heart of San Jose, the Gran Hotel Costa Rica has witnessed the urban transformation of the capital city and proof of the national idiosyncrasy.
Currently, the hotel is undergoing its own transformation, to continue adapting to the times. Closed in July 2016, the promise is to reopen, totally renovated, before the end of the year.
The iconic hotel is operated by the Elite Hotels and Resorts de Costa Rica chain, through a franchise agreement with Hilton Worldwide, under the Hilton Curio Collection brand.
The Gran Hotel Costa Rica was built in the 1920s, and inaugurated on October 30, 1930.
In 2004 it was declared a “Historical Landmark”.
“As an architectural monument, you have to treat it differently. It will be part of the Hilton chain, with the brand Curio. They are iconic hotels that have great value for cities or countries, which reopen their doors with a first class boutique concept,” said Ludwing Díaz, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Hilton Garden Inn.
Among the changes, we can expect is the moving of the reception to the fifth floor, that will include a piano bar and executive lounge and meeting area. The hotel’s number of rooms will be reduced from the original 106 to 79; the ground floor will have a brand new restaurant and shops.
Besides the renovations inside, the outside of the structure will also have a new look. However, the total renovation will not alter the “essence of the property”, assures William Monge, director of the Heritage Center of the Ministry of Culture, who said that they have been working together with the hotel operator during the process of remodeling.
However, the total renovation will not alter the “essence of the property”, assures William Monge, director of the Heritage Center of the Ministry of Culture, who said that they have been working together with the hotel operator during the process of remodeling.
For example, one of the conditions of the Heritage Center is “Le Jardin” room on the fifth floor remains intact. Also, the room where John F. Kennedy stayed cannot be touched either.
For the other four floors, given that they were built on an “open plan” allowing for future redevelopments in mind. Therefore, says Diaz, “there is no risk of altering the historic fabric of the property.”
Another of the requests of the Heritage Center was not to alter the windows of the entire hotel, which were made with a constructive technique that is no longer used, that has great architectural value.
“As they needed to soundproof the hotel, it was allowed to add a second window, on the inside of the original, to solve the noise problem,” Monge said.
To ensure that the work is carried out as indicated in the plans, an architect visits the worksite weekly.